Category Archives: www

Of Google Hotel Finder and comparing Apple, Microsoft & Google

In an interesting critique of Google Hotel Finder, these lines stood out:

As Google grows, its willingness to float bad products is starting to seem a little bit similar to Microsoft, ten years ago. You know what’s also similar? Its dependence on a single cash cow that keeps them from caring whether any single side venture lives or dies.

Which leads us to:

The direct contrast of course is America’s best design-driven company, Apple. Steve Jobs would rather die than release any new product that wasn’t a step-wise improvement over everything that existed before. That’s the mentality of someone that cares about whether people use a product. It’s the mentality of a designer. Google’s mentality is that of an engineer, content to labor over one cool feature at the expense of creating any overarching value.

And finally:

As the example of Microsoft vs. Apple showed us, the engineer’s mentality can win early in a product cycle, when new features can create great advantages over competitors. But over time, as the tech gets commoditized, it’s companies like Apple, which are focused on integrating all the features, that create world-changing products.

Bespin Gotchas

In case of trouble connecting to Bespin from an external machine, try setting the IP address to 0.0.0.0

Either change the file pavement.py:

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server=Bunch(
   # set to true to allow connections from other machines
   address="0.0.0.0",
   port="8080",
   try_build=False,
   dburl=None,
   async=False,
   config_file=path("devconfig.py"),
   directory=path("../bespinserver/").abspath(),
   clientdir=path.getcwd()
),

Or pass it as a command line argument:

paver server.address=0.0.0.0 server.port=8080 start

In case you haven’t noticed, you can even specify the port to start on i.e. run Bespin on a custom port.

Get email updates when your IP changes/ Python DynDns update client

I use DynDns to map my ISP provided dynamic IP to a static hostname. For some reason, the DynDns provided update clients don’t always work for me and often leave my hostname pointing to a dead or (worse) someone else’s IP. I decided to take matter into my own hands and write a script that would email me my IP whenever my DHCP lease expired and my ISP issued me a fresh one. This would ensure I know how to reach back home, even if my hostname was pointing to an old IP.

While going through the DynDns API, I realized it was trivial to update the hostname as well, essentially replicating the functionality of the aforementioned client(s). So I decided to add that as well.

I know this functionality can be replicated via curl + sendmail, but Python is my tool of choice, so just live with it. Without further ado, here’s the script, with an explanation afterwards.

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#!/usr/bin/env python
# encoding: utf-8
"""
Script to email IP whenever it changes. Also updates DynDns hostname.
Version 1.0
 
Created by Kunal Dua on 2010-05-10
http://www.kunaldua.com/blog/?p=360
 
This program is free software; you may redistribute it and/or
modify it under the same terms as Python itself.
"""
 
def send_mail(subject, content):
        import smtplib
        from email.mime.text import MIMEText
        SERVER = "smtpserver"
        PORT = 587  #Use 25 if this doesn't work
        USER = "username"
        PASS = "password"
        FROM = "IPBot <mail@example.com>"
        TO = "user+folder@example.com"
 
        SUBJECT = subject
        TEXT = content
 
        message = MIMEText(TEXT)
        message['Subject'] = SUBJECT
        message['From'] = FROM
        message['To'] = TO
 
        server = smtplib.SMTP(SERVER, PORT)
        server.login (USER, PASS)
        server.sendmail(FROM, TO, message.as_string())
        server.quit()
 
 
def update_dyndns(theip):
        USERNAME = 'username'
        PASSWORD = 'password'
        HOSTNAME = 'example.dyndns.org'
 
        theurl = 'https://%s:%s@members.dyndns.org/nic/update?hostname=%s&myip=%s&wildcard=NOCHG&mx=NOCHG&backmx=NOCHG' % (USERNAME, PASSWORD, HOSTNAME, theip)
 
        import urllib
        conn = urllib.urlopen(theurl)
        #print conn.read()
        conn.close()
 
 
if __name__ == '__main__':
        import urllib2, re
        conn = urllib2.urlopen('http://checkip.dyndns.com/')
        data = conn.read()
        conn.close()
        m = re.search('([0-9]*)(.)([0-9]*)(.)([0-9]*)(.)([0-9]*)', data)
        currip = m.group(0)
 
        lastfile = "lastip.txt"
        allfile = "history.txt"
 
        theipfile = open(lastfile,"r")
        lastip = theipfile.read()
        theipfile.close()
 
        if lastip == currip:
                #print "no change needed"
                exit()
        else:
                histfile = open(allfile, "a")
                import datetime
                thenow = datetime.datetime.now().ctime()
                histfile.write("%s %sn" % (thenow, currip))
                histfile.close()
                theipfile = open(lastfile,"w")
                theipfile.write(currip)
                theipfile.close()
                send_mail(currip, '')
                update_dyndns(currip)
  • Lines 17-22 and 39-41 replace with your email and DynDns settings respectively.
  • Line 22 – My email provider supports redirecting mails to a folder by simply adding the name of the folder before @ sign. For example user+ipupdates@example.com will deliver mail in folder ipupdates of user@example.com. If your email provider supports this, it’s a useful trick to prevent these mails from cluttering up your inbox. If not, simply enter your regular email address.
  • Lines 60-61 initialize 2 files that I use. One is to store the current IP (or the last known IP) and the other is a history of all IP changes. The former is used to compare if the IP has changed since the script was last run and thus if an email needs to be sent + DynDns updated. The latter is not really needed for the script to function properly, and is used to maintain a log of all IP changes – because you can!
  • Line 78 – By default, the subject of the mail is the IP and the body/ text is blank. Feel free to obfuscate your IP if you feel paranoid about sending it in clear text or write sweet nothings to yourself in the body.
  • Note: Before you run this script for the first time, create an empty file called lastip.txt in the same directory as the script or the script will fail. I know I could write a trivial check for this, but I leave that as an exercise for the reader.

Recommended frequency of running this job via cron/ launchd is 10 minutes.

Update: (May 27) I am pretty sure the DynDns API is broken in some way because I can’t get it to update even with this script. The email part is working pretty good for me though!

Reliance Wireless broadband auto-login (and logout) script(s)

The old “curl” based method stopped working yesterday when Reliance got a new login page as well as a new backend. It seems Reliance is now also looking at Cookies during authentication. Here’s a little Python script that you can execute to automate the process.

If you don’t know what Python is, you better stick to browser based authentication 🙂

Needless to say, you can schedule this script as a cron/ launchd job to run periodically and keep you logged in. That’s how I use it, which is why the script doesn’t output anything to prevent unnecessary log “pollution”.

Login Script for Python 2.x

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#!/usr/bin/env python
# encoding: utf-8
"""
Reliance Login Script for Python 2.x v1.0
 
Created by Kunal Dua on 2009-12-18
http://www.kunaldua.com/blog/?p=330
 
This program is free software; you may redistribute it and/or
modify it under the same terms as Python itself.
"""
 
import urllib2, urllib, cookielib
 
username = '1111111111111111' #replace the text within quotes with your username
password = 'password'	#replace the text within quotes with your password
 
jar = cookielib.FileCookieJar("cookies")
opener = urllib2.build_opener(urllib2.HTTPCookieProcessor(jar))
 
response = opener.open("http://10.239.89.15/reliance/startportal_isg.do")
 
login_data = urllib.urlencode({'userId' : username, 'password' : password, 'action' : 'doLoginSubmit'})
resp = opener.open('http://10.239.89.15/reliance/login.do', login_data)

Update: Logout Script for Python 2.x

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#!/usr/bin/env python
# encoding: utf-8
"""
Reliance Logout Script v1.0
 
Created by Kunal Dua on 2009-12-22
http://www.kunaldua.com/blog/?p=323
 
This program is free software; you may redistribute it and/or
modify it under the same terms as Python itself.
"""
 
import urllib2, cookielib
 
jar = cookielib.FileCookieJar("cookies")
opener = urllib2.build_opener(urllib2.HTTPCookieProcessor(jar))
 
response = opener.open("http://10.239.89.15/reliance/login.do", timeout=2)
 
resp = opener.open('http://10.239.89.15/reliance/logout.do')

Update: Login Script for Python 3.x

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#!/usr/bin/env python
# encoding: utf-8
"""
Reliance Login Script for Python 3.0 v1.0
 
Created by Kunal Dua on 2009-12-30
http://www.kunaldua.com/blog/?p=323
 
This program is free software; you may redistribute it and/or
modify it under the same terms as Python itself.
"""
 
import urllib, http.cookiejar
 
username = '1111111111111111' #replace the text within quotes with your username
password = 'password'	#replace the text within quotes with your password
 
jar = http.cookiejar.FileCookieJar("cookies")
opener = urllib.request.build_opener(urllib.request.HTTPCookieProcessor(jar))
 
response = opener.open("http://10.239.89.15/reliance/startportal_isg.do")
 
login_data = urllib.parse.urlencode({'userId' : username, 'password' : password, 'action' : 'doLoginSubmit'})
resp = opener.open('http://10.239.89.15/reliance/login.do', login_data)

Bad Bad Twitter

Since a few asked – I am moving from @duak to @kunaldua since Twitter refuses to index the former. What difference does it make? A lot!

  • I don’t appear in People Search. By itself, probably not a big deal and something I could have lived with. But not when you include the next 3.
  • If I “mention” anyone (@twitter_id) in one of my tweets, they’ll never see that tweet in their list of mentions unless they follow me.
  • Even if you are following me, unless I start my tweet with @yourtwitterid, you won’t see that tweet in your list of mentions.
  • My tweets don’t appear in any search results, so if I participate in any conferences/ events and use hash-tags and the likes, no one sees it!

So that’s it – there’s the reason for the switch. Probably Twitter thinks I am a spammer so they decided to block me and unfortunately there’s no way for me to get this addressed in any other way. See you @kunaldua.

Join Google Groups without Google id

If, like me, you don’t have a Gmail id (shock horror!) it can be a pain trying to figure out how to join a Google Group (( I know you can have a Google id that is NOT a Gmail id, but let’s leave that out for now. )) . Some groups (like the Django ones) do have web pages with a sign-up form, but most don’t. So how do you join those groups without going through all the Google id related shenanigans? Simple – type this in your address bar (and remember to press enter!):

http://groups.google.com/group/GroupName/boxsubscribe?email=emailid

Replace GroupName with the name of the group you want to join and emailid with your email id. In case you didn’t make any typos, you’ll find Google telling you that “a confirmation message has been sent” to your id. Just click on the link in that email and you are good to go.

[tags]Google, Google Groups[/tags]

Translate .local hostname to IP address

You can have .local hostnames translated to IP addresses by installing Bonjour on the source machine i.e. the (windows) machine doing the lookup.

Saved me the trouble of changing the IP of my Powerbook in Synergy configuration on the Windows machine every time I got allocated a new one.

Doesn’t matter if you are part of a Windows domain, not part or whatever – just install Bonjour and you are good to go. That is the beauty of Bonjour.